Category: Entertainment

November 26 1878- Marshall Walter Taylor

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a Black man who died penniless but was the “Best” in the world at his profession. I should thank the makers of Hennessy; the liquor company for reminding the world that he existed by having an ad campaign recently on television and radio. I did a story on him last year at this time and I try to do someone one you have not heard of or know little about. So, please read about this great talent during a time no one wanted him to be the greatest of all time in his event and will go down as one of the preeminent American sports pioneers of the 20th century. Enjoy

Remember – “I pray they will carry on in spite of that dreadful monster prejudice, and with patience, courage, fortitude and perseverance achieve success for themselves.” “Life is too short for any man to hold bitterness in his heart.” – Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor
Today in our History – November 26, 1878, Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor is born, and would go on to be just the second black world champion in any sport.

Indianapolis, Indiana’s cyclist Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor began racing professionally when he was 18 years old. By 1900, Taylor held several major world records and competed in events around the globe. After 14 years of grueling competition and fending off intense racism, he retired at age 32. He died penniless in Chicago on June 21, 1932.
Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor was born November 26, 1878, in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the early years of his life, Taylor was raised without much money. His father, a farmer and Civil War veteran, worked as carriage driver for a wealthy white family.
Taylor often joined his dad at work and became close to his father’s employers, especially their son, who was similar in age. Eventually, Taylor moved in with the family, a radical change that gave the young boy a more stable home situation with opportunities for a better education.
Taylor was essentially treated as one of the family’s own, and one of their early gifts to him was a new bike. Taylor took to it immediately, teaching himself bike tricks that he showed off to his friends.
When Taylor’s antics caught the attention of a local bike shop owner, he was hired to exhibit his tricks outside the shop to attract more customers. Often, he donned a military uniform, which earned him the nickname “Major” from the shop’s clientele. The nickname remained with him for the rest of his life. 
With the encouragement of the bike shop owner, Taylor entered his first bike race when he was in his early teens, a 10-mile event that he won easily. By the age of 18, Taylor had relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts, and started racing professionally. In his first competition, an exhausting six-day ride at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Taylor finished eighth.
From there, he pedaled into history. By 1898, Taylor had captured seven world records. A year later, he was crowned national and international champion, making him just the second black world champion athlete, after bantamweight boxer George Dixon. He collected medals and prize money in races around the world, including Australia, Europe and all over North America.
As his successes mounted, however, Taylor had to fend off racial insults and attacks from fellow cyclists and cycling fans. Though black athletes were more accepted and had less overt racism to contend with in Europe, Taylor was barred from racing in the American South. Many competitors hassled and bumped him on the track, and crowds often threw things at him while he was riding. During one event in Boston, a cyclist named W.E. Becker pushed Taylor off his bike and choked him until police intervened, leaving Taylor unconscious for 15 minutes.
Despite his fame and talent, Taylor was subject to intense racism and discrimination. He was barred from races, turned away from restaurants and hotels, and subjected to racist insults throughout his career. At one point he was banned from a track in his hometown of Indianapolis after defeating white cyclists (and breaking two world records in the process).
Exhausted by his grueling racing schedule and the racism that followed him, Taylor retired from cycling at age 32. In 1910, despite the obstacles, he had become one of the wealthiest athletes — black or white — of his time.
Sadly, Taylor found his post-racing life to be more difficult. Business ventures failed, and he wound up losing much of his earnings. He also became estranged from his wife and daughter. For Taylor, a retired black athlete, there were few options after retirement. There were no speaking engagements or endorsements. With his health deteriorating and his investments dwindling, Taylor eventually fell into poverty and faded into obscurity.
Taylor moved to Chicago in 1930, and boarded at a local YMCA as he tried to sell copies of his self-published autobiography, The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World. Taylor died alone and penniless in the charity ward of a Chicago hospital on June 21, 1932.
Buried in an unmarked grave in the welfare section of Mount Glenwood Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois, Taylor’s body was exhumed in 1948 through the efforts of a group of former pro racers and Schwinn Bicycle Company owner Frank Schwinn, and moved to a more prominent area of the cemetery.
It would be another forty years before Taylor’s accomplishments were more formally recognized. In the 1980s, Taylor was inducted to the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame, and Indianapolis built the Major Taylor Velodrome, naming their new track after the man who had once been banned from it.
More recently, Taylor was posthumously awarded the Korbel Lifetime Achievement Award by USA Cycling, and the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, Taylor’s adopted home, erected a statue honoring Taylor outside their library. Marshall “Major” Taylor was a pioneer black athlete and his incredible achievements are finally receiving the recognition they deserve.

November 25 1992- The Bodyguard Was Released

GM – FBF – Today’s story is just one short glimpse of the talent that this Newark, NJ and later moved to East Orange, NJ native had. She was blessed to be around a family of great singers including her mother and Aunt who had connections into the entertainment world. Enjoy!

Remember – The Bodyguard is a 1992 American romantic thriller film directed by Mick Jackson, written by Lawrence Kasdan, and starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. Costner stars as a former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard who is hired to protect Houston’s character, a music star, from an unknown stalker. Kasdan wrote the film in the mid-1970s, originally as a vehicle for Steve McQueen and Diana Ross.

Today in our History – November 25, 1992 – The Bodyguard was released.

The film was Houston’s acting debut and was the second-highest-grossing film worldwide in 1992, making $411 million worldwide. The soundtrack became the best-selling soundtrack of all time, selling more than 45 million copies worldwide.

The ads for “The Bodyguard” make it look like a romance, but actually it’s a study of two lifestyles: of a pop music superstar whose fame and fortune depends on millions of fans, and of a professional bodyguard who makes his living by protecting her from those fans. The movie does contain a love story, but it’s the kind of guarded passion that grows between two people who spend a lot of time keeping their priorities straight.

The star is Rachel Marron, played by Whitney Houston, and is as rich and famous as . . . Whitney Houston. The bodyguard is Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner), who got his training in the Secret Service and still blames himself for the fact that Ronald Reagan got shot, even though he had an excellent excuse for being away from work that day. Now Farmer hires himself out at $3,000 a week to guard celebrities, and is careful not to get involved.

Of course that’s easy at the outset. He is hired by Marron’s manager after the singer gets death threats. It’s not love at first sight. The conventions of this genre require that the star and bodyguard have to get off on the wrong foot; she doesn’t want him meddling with her lifestyle and freedom, and he doesn’t have any respect for an uncooperative client.

Eventually the tension between them melts, and there is a sort of love affair, based mostly on mutual proximity (they never talk about much but their professional relationship, and the skills of his job). There’s an odd, effective dating scene where she leaves her mansion to visit his cluttered, grim little apartment (and a peculiar moment with a samurai sword and a scarf that is undeniably erotic).

Meanwhile, Farmer gets to know some of the members of Rachel’s retinue, including her son, her sister, her manager and her obnoxious press agent (Gary Kemp). These people are supported by Marron, and live with her on her terms, creating eddies of jealousy and palace intrigue. She is aware of her power, and tells Farmer she is essentially a nice person who is considered a bitch by a lot of people, and wishes that weren’t so. Houston is effective at suggesting both sides of that personality.

The death threats keep coming in. There is a frightening scene at a charity concert, where Marron places her personal safety in the hands of a mob, and Farmer, with all of his skills, is powerless to protect her. I was less impressed by the scenes where he wires her estate with security cameras, and at one point goes crashing through her shrubbery in pursuit of a suspicious van. What’s he going to do? Leap onto the roof and hammer his way in through the windshield?

The movie was written by Lawrence Kasdan (“Body Heat,” “Grand Canyon”) and directed by Mick Jackson, and contains a little of the Hollywood insider cynicism Kasdan suggested in the Steve Martin character in “Grand Canyon.” The willingness of the press agent to risk anything for publicity is noted, as well as the star’s sense of personal invulnerability. This is Houston’s screen debut, and she is at home in the role; she photographs wonderfully, and has a warm smile, and yet is able to suggest selfish and egotistical dimensions in the character. Costner hugs her with his eyes open, scanning the room for surprise attacks.

The movie was made as a thriller, I suppose, because of box-office considerations. I felt a little cheated by the outcome, although I should have been able to predict it, using my Law of Economy of Characters, which teaches that no movie contains any unnecessary characters, so that an apparently superfluous character is probably the killer.

I thought the basic situation in “The Bodyguard” was intriguing enough to sustain a film all by itself: on the one hand, a star who grows rich through the adulation that fans feel for her, and on the other hand, a working man who, for a salary, agrees to substitute his body as a target instead of hers. Makes you think. Research more about the late American Hero Whitney Houston and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 19 1983- Tina Turner

GM – FBF – Today’s look back into our History is about a black female singer who In the wake of divorce, debt and dismal record sales, Turner mounted a stellar comeback. WHEN SHE WAS 45, THE AGE when many pop singers’ careers have faded, Tina Turner’s 1984 album, Private Dancer, delivered her from commercial purgatory to become the singer’s biggest success.

Remember – “Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything… whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.” – Tina Turner

Today in our History – November 19, 1983: Tina Turner begins her fabled Eighties comeback when her version of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” produced by of Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh of Heaven 17, hits the British charts.
Born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tenn., she began recording with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, later marrying the bandleader and adopting the stage name Tina. The group earned six top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including its Grammy-winning cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary,” which reached No. 4 in 1971.

Behind the facade of the couple’s success, however, Ike was abusing Tina, and she walked out on him in 1976, famously carrying only a Mobil credit card and 36 cents. They divorced two years later.

Though freed from her marriage, Turner struggled professionally; playing cabaret-style shows to settle debts while two solo albums fizzled on the charts. Her fortune began to change when Olivia Newton-John invited Turner to appear on her 1979 TV special. The cameo led to Turner meeting Roger Davies, who became her manager and flew with the singer to England to work on Private Dancer, her debut on Capitol Records.

The album generated Turner’s first five solo top 40 hits on the Hot 100, including her first No. 1, “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” The smashes pushed Private Dancer to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 on Sept. 29, 1984, and to a 39-week run in the top 10. Following Private Dancer, Turner earned a further dozen hits on the Hot 100 through 1996.

Turner continued recording and touring through 2008. Now retired from performing and living in Switzerland with her husband, German music producer Erwin Bach, she is developing an autobiographical stage musical, with performances set to begin in London in March 2019. Research more on Black Female artists and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

I am facilitating a sales Managers Workshop for today and tomorrow and will not be able to respond to any posts.

November 18 1994- Cabell “Cab” Calloway III

GM – FBF – Today’s story spans a life time of being up front and on stage from the Big Band Era to doing a MTV Video with Janet Jackson in the 1990’s. This artist played with the best and would not change his Image for anyone. Some say he was arrogant and others a true to his race genius. Enjoy!

Remember –“A movie and a stage show are two entirely different things. A picture, you can do anything you want. Change it, cut out a scene, put in a scene, take a scene out. They don’t do that on stage.” Cab Calloway

Today in History – November 18, 1994 – Cabell “Cab” Calloway III died. He was voted the 39th out of 100 Greatest American Band Leaders (BLACK or WHITE) of “ALL – TIME”!
Cab Calloway, byname of Cabell Calloway III, (born December 25, 1907, Rochester, New York, U.S.—died November 18, 1994, Hockessin, Delaware), American bandleader, singer, and all-around entertainer known for his exuberant performing style and for leading one of the most highly regarded big bands of the swing era.

After graduating from high school, Calloway briefly attended a law school in Chicago but quickly turned to performing in nightclubs as a singer. He began directing his own bands in 1928 and in the following year went to New York City. There he appeared in an all-black musical, Fats Waller’s Connie’s Hot Chocolates, in which he sang the Waller classic “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

In 1931 he was engaged as a bandleader at the Cotton Club; his orchestra, along with that of Duke Ellington’s, became one of the two house bands most associated with the legendary Harlem nightspot. In the same year, Calloway first recorded his most famous composition, “Minnie the Moocher,” a song that showcased his ability at scatsinging. Other Calloway hits from the 1930s include “Kickin’ the Gong Around,” “Reefer Man,” “The Lady with the Fan,” “Long About Midnight,” “The Man from Harlem,” and “Minnie the Moocher’s Wedding Day.”

Calloway was an energetic and humorous entertainer whose performance trademarks included eccentric dancing and wildly flinging his mop of hair; his standard accoutrementsincluded a white tuxedo and an oversized baton. He was a talented vocalist with an enormous range and was regarded as “the most unusually and broadly gifted male singer of the ’30s” by jazz scholar Gunther Schuller. Although his band rose to fame largely on the strength of his personal appeal, some critics felt that Calloway’s antics drew focus away from one of the best assemblages of musicians in jazz.

Calloway led a tight, professional unit during the early 1930s, but many regard his band of 1937–42 to be his best. Featured sidemen during those years included legendary jazz players such as pianist Bennie Payne, saxophonists Chu Berry and Ike Quebec, trombonist-vibraphonist Tyree Glenn, drummer Cozy Cole, and trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Doc Cheatham, Jonah Jones, and Shad Collins. The decline in popularity of big bands forced Calloway to disband his orchestra in 1948, and he continued for several years with a sextet.

Calloway also had a successful side career as an actor. He appeared in several motion pictures, including The Big Broadcast (1932), Stormy Weather (1943), Sensations of 1945 (1944), and The Cincinnati Kid (1965). George Gershwin had conceived the role of “Sportin’ Life” in his 1935 jazz opera Porgy and Bess for Calloway; the entertainer finally got his chance at the part during a heralded world tour of the show in 1952–54. In the 1960s, Calloway appeared on Broadway and on tour in Hello, Dolly!, portraying the role of Horace Vandergelder opposite Pearl Bailey as Dolly Levi, and he again starred on Broadway in the 1970s in the hit musical Bubbling Brown Sugar.

His best-known acting performance was also his last, as a jive-talking music promoter in director John Landis’s comedy The Blues Brothers (1980). The film featured Calloway singing “Minnie the Moocher” every bit as energetically and eccentrically as he had performed it in 1931. Research more about Black American Band leaders and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 13 1971- “Inner City Blues”

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a song by one of the greatest singers in America. He had hits galore and was the darling of the record company that he worked for. The album that the song came from was a platinum album that the record company put on the shelf because of the current tide in the country and was afraid that their buyers might not understand. The Album and particularly this song stood out for political activist and was sampled and remade by over 100 artists. Enjoy!

Remember – “This song was written to get the people to realize that we only have one earth and it is up to us to be as one with it” – Marvin Gaye

Today in our History – November 13, 1971 – “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” was released.

“Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”, often shortened to “Inner City Blues”, is a song by Marvin Gaye, released as the third and final single from and the climactic song of his 1971 landmark album, What’s Going On. Written by Gaye and James Nyx Jr., the song depicts the ghettos and bleak economic situations of inner-city America, and the emotional effects these have on inhabitants.

In 1998, co-writer James Nyx Jr. recalled, “Marvin had a good tune, sort of blues-like, but didn’t have any words for it. We started putting some stuff in there about how rough things were around town. We laughed about putting lyrics in about high taxes, ’cause both of us owed a lot. And we talked about how the government would send guys to the moon, but not help folks in the ghetto. But we still didn’t have a name, or really a good idea of the song. Then, I was home reading the paper one morning, and saw a headline that said something about the ‘inner city’ of Detroit. And I said, ‘Damn, that’s it. ‘Inner City Blues.’ “

The song was recorded in a mellow funk style with Gaye playing piano. Several of the Funk Brothers also contributed, including Eddie “Bongo” Brown, and bassist Bob Babbitt.
In its unedited version as it appears on the album, the final minute of the song (and of the LP) is a reprise to the theme of “What’s Going On”, the album’s first song, then segues into a dark ending. This final minute was cut off of the single version, as well as other sections of the song so the single edit runs under three minutes—this edit appears on subsequent reissues of the Motown released “Inner City Blues” as a single on their Tamla label on March 14, 1971.

The song helped Gaye make history by being one of the few artists to have three or more Top 10 songs off Billboard’s Pop Singles chart peaking at #9 and one of the first to have three consecutive #1 hits on Billboard’s R&B Singles chart where it stayed for two weeks.[2] Although not certified by the RIA at that time, all three releases from the What’s Going On album gained Gold status by selling over 1,000,000 copies in the United States.

A music video for the song was not released until 1994, when the Hughes brothers co-directed a video of the song for the reissue of What’s Going On. The video was shot in Harlem over the course of five days, featuring visuals of poverty and inner-city depression. The brothers also filmed firefighters putting out a fire, claiming to police to have been shooting a documentary.

The song was first covered by the Belgian jazz band Placebo on the Ball of Eyes LP in 1971. Then by Grover Washington, Jr. in 1972 from the album named “Inner City Blues.” Also in 1972, on her album A Time In My Life, Sarah Vaughan covered “Inner City Blues” with David Axelrod on the drums.

The same year the song was recorded by The Chi-Lites on the album A Lonely Man, and by The Impressions for their album Times Have Changed. It was covered by Phil Upchurch in his album, “Darkness, Darkness” Christian alternative band Adam Again did a soulful rendition of the song on 1990s Homeboys.

In 1993, guitarist Larry Coryell covered the song from his album “Fallen Angel.” In 1994, Angela Winbush covered the song and released it as a single and abbreviated the name simply to “Inner City Blues”. 1996 saw R&B group Ideal release a cover of the song on the Original Gangstas soundtrack. In 1998, the Mayfield Four released a cover of “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” under its original title on their debut album Fallout. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band also did a cover of this song on their album, What’s Going On (2006) (Shout Factory). It was also covered by Joe Cocker on his album titled “Cocker”.

Etta James covered hers for her 1998 album Life, Love & the Blues.

It was also covered by the hard-rock band Sevendust in 2003, and can be found on the DVD included with some versions of their album Seasons, and then was included on their compilation album Best of (Chapter One 1997-2004) which was released in late 2005. In 2004, John Mayer performed the song live and later released on his compilation live album As/Is. The version includes a turntable solo by New York City jazz turntable player DJ Logic.

In 1997 the Grover Washington Jr. version was re-released on the compilation Funky Jazz Classics & Original Breaks from the Tough Side, the first of the Pulp Fusion series. In 2007 the Sarah Vaughan cover was also re-released on the compilation Bustin’ Loose, the tenth of the Pulp Fusion series.

The original version of the song also was used in the soundtrack of the 2007 film Zodiac, directed by David Fincher in a time lapse scene of the Transamerica Pyramid being built. It was also featured in the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV on The Vibe, an in-game radio station. And it was also featured in the opening scene of 2014 film A Most Violent Year, directed by J.C. Chandor. Research more about Marvin Gaye and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 12 2007- Aletra Hampton

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a family and their singing prowess, the heart and soul of the group was the most business minded and let her other sister’s gain most of the fame. Indianapolis, Indiana is where they planted their roots but they were sellers in Cincinnati, Ohio, Carnegie Hall and The Apollo Theater. Enjoy!

Remember – “Dad was a self-taught musician as well as a self-taught artist”, recalled Aletra. He was responsible for the whole thing. He taught everybody;from the age of three, they all played instruments. “He was the leader of the band for a while, but Dad got tired” – Aletra Hampton

Today In Our History – November 12, 2007 – Aletra Hampton died.

Aletra Hampton (October 8, 1915 – November 12, 2007) was an American jazz pianist and singer, best known for her performances during the 1940s and 1950s as a member of the Hampton family band and the Hampton Sisters, a quartet she formed during World War II with her siblings, Carmalita, Virtue and Dawn. The Middletown, Ohio, native began performing at a young age and moved with her family to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1938.

Hampton and her eight siblings performed in the 1940s and 1950s in Duke Hampton’s band, their oldest 
brother’s jazz orchestra. The group became well known as the house band at nightclubs in Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Ohio, and toured the United States playing at venues that included New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Harlem’s Apollo Theater and the Savoy Ballroom. The family’s band dissolved in the 1950s, but Hampton and two of her sisters, Virtue and Carmalita, continued to perform as the Hampton Sisters for several more years. The trio reunited in Indianapolis in 1981 after almost a twenty-year hiatus. Hampton and her sister, Virtue, continued to perform as a duo, mostly in Indianapolis, until 2006.

Hampton and her siblings received Indiana’s Governor Arts Award (1991) for their contributions to the state’s musical heritage. In addition, Hampton was inducted into the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation’s Hall of Fame (1999); received an honorary doctorate of music degree from the University of Indianapolis(2004); and was a recipient of NUVO newspaper’s Cultural Vision Lifetime Achievement Award (2006).

The Indiana Historical Society released The Hampton Sisters, A Jazz Tribute (2003), a compact disc featuring Aletra and Virtue Hampton. Close members of Hampton’s musical family include her brother, “Slide” Hampton, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master; her sister, Dawn (Died in 2016), a well-known New York City cabaret singer and swing dancer; and her nephew, Pharez Whitted, a jazz trumpeter. Research more about family entertainment groups and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 9 1935 Robert ” BOB” Gibson

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about one of the greatest Professional Baseball players during his era. He tunned down an opportunity to Play baseball at 17 years and instead went to college. He ensured himself to being a top prospect by starting and playing baseball and basketball which was the first for his college. He chooses baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals but also played with the Harlem Globetrotters to support his income. I saw him pitch when the Cardinals came to Philly to play the Phillies. I remember the 1961 all-star game with Mays, Aaron and Clemente in the field and Gibson on the mound. What a game. Enjoy!

Remember – Why do I have to be an example for your kid? You be an example for your own kid. – Bob Gibson

Today in our History – November 9, 1935 – Robert “BOB” Gibson was born.

Famous Major League baseball pitcher Robert “Bob” Gibson was Pack and Victoria Gibson’s seventh child born November 9, 1935 in Omaha, Nebraska. Pack died three months before Bob Gibson was born. Young Gibson suffered with asthma, pneumonia, rickets, hay fever, and a rheumatic heart. He and his family lived in a four bedroom dilapidated frame house in North Omaha and later moved to a segregated government housing project.

By high school Gibson had overcome most of his childhood illnesses and become a multisport athlete at Omaha Technical High School. By his senior year, however, he concentrated on baseball, and in 1952 the Kansas City (Missouri) Monarchs attempted to sign the seventeen year old. When he graduated one year later the St. Louis Cardinals attempted to sign him to a minor league contract. He declined, opting to attend Creighton University in Omaha which extended him a scholarship to play basketball. He would become Creighton’s first African American athlete to play both varsity basketball and baseball.

Gibson joined the St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A farm club as a pitcher in 1957, signing a contract for $3,000 with a $1,000 signing bonus. In the offseason, he played for the Harlem Globetrotters, earning another $4,000 annually. In 1958 Gibson signed a contract with the Cardinals which doubled his salary and eliminated his need to play for the Globetrotters.
The next three years, until mid 1961, he would spend with the Redbird farm system in Columbus, Georgia.

He finished in the majors that year with 12 wins and 13 losses, and struck out 166 batters. He remained with the Cardinals in the Major League from 1962 to 1972 and ranked amongst the best of all major league pitchers. His most notable year was 1968, when he won 22 of the 31 games he appeared in, threw for 305 innings, had 13 shut outs, and struck out a league-leading 268 batters. He finished the season with a record breaking 1.12 ERA for a pitcher throwing for over 300 innings.

Gibson’s achievements would earn him both the prestigious Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player of the Year Award.
Although his career had slowed by 1971, due to various injuries, he continued to play until his retirement in 1975. Six years later in 1981, he was a near unanimous choice for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Gibson finished his career having pitched in 528 games with 251 wins, 174 losses, 56 shutouts, 3,117 strikeouts, and career average 2.91 ERA.

After retirement, Gibson served as pitching coach to the New York Mets in 1981, and with the Atlanta Braves from 1982 to 1984. He returned to the Cardinals organization in 1994 as assistant coach to Manager Joe Torre. In between, he served as a radio announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, ran a restaurant, served as chair of the board of a St. Louis bank and owned interest in a St. Louis radio station. Research more about black baseball players and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 8 1975- Syvilla Fort

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a person who loved to dance. She loved it so much she began teaching dance at the age nine. She went to high school and attended one of the best dance schools in the nation. The rest is history as they say. Enjoy!

Remember – “ Many people love to dance in clubs and in houses and that is fine but when I think of dance, I think of flying and controlling one’s body to a point that you can express any feeling.” – Syvilla Fort

Today in our History – November 8, 1975 – Syvilla Fort died.

Syvilla Fort, born on July 3, 1917 in Seattle, was a professional dancer in the 1930s and early 1940s and prominent dance instructor in New York City for three decades between 1948 and 1975. Her dance style, which combined African, Caribbean, and American rhythms, influenced hundreds of professional dancers and actors.

Fort began studying ballet when she was three years old but was denied admission to several Seattle ballet schools because of her race. Forced to learn at home in private lessons, she soon excelled in dance and at age nine began to teach modern dance, tap, and ballet to the neighborhood kids.

In 1932 she graduated from high school and entered the Cornish School of Allied Arts in Seattle, becoming its first African American student. At Cornish she met John Cage, an American composer, who had Fort perform some of his first compositions. They continued this collaboration through her years at Cornish.

In 1937 Fort relocated to Los Angeles to begin her professional career. There she met dancer Katherine Dunham. Fort later joined Dunham’s dance company in Chicago. While with Dunham’s company, Fort injured her knee which ended her professional dance career prematurely in 1945. In 1948 Fort was appointed chief administrator and dance teacher at the Katherine Dunham School of Dance in New York. Fort retained that position until 1954 when the school closed due to financial problems.

Soon afterwards Fort and her husband, Buddy Philips, opened a dance studio in New York City on West 44th Street. It was here that Fort developed her Afro-Modern technique, which combined the modern styles of dance, learned from the Dunham School, with the techniques she had acquired at Cornish. Fort’s school became popular among aspiring actors and had a number of students who went on to illustrious careers including Marlon Brando, James Dean, Jane Fonda, and James Earl Jones. Fort was also a part time Professor of Physical Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College between 1954 and 1967.

Fort’s dance studio thrived until she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1975. The cancer spread rapidly and she died on November 8, 1975. Just days before her death, Syvilla Fort attended a concert in her honor organized by the Black Theater Alliance. Research more about black dance and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 5 1901- Etta Moten Barnett

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about one of the great female pioneers of entertainment. She was so focused that she raised her children as a single parent and still finished her college which is tough during any era but in the 30’s was hard. Both Hollywood and New York Theater was honored with her talents, she mentored young black women, was a civil rights advocate and spent time in countries in Africa. She was the first Black Female entertainer to perform at the White House and lived to the age of 102. Enjoy!

Remember – “ I would not accept that my talents were not going to be seen because I was black, I got most of what I sat out for and I am at peace” – Etta Moten Barnett

Today in our History – November 5, 1901 – Etta Moten Barnett was born.

Etta Moten Barnett, singer, actress, civic activist and humanitarian, was born Nov. 5, 1901 to Rev. Freeman F. Moten and Ida Norman Moten in Weimar, Texas. As the daughter of an African Methodist Episcopal minister and a schoolteacher, the church and education were central to Etta Moten Barnett’s upbringing. As early as 10 years old, Barnett instructed Sunday school in her father’s church and performed in the church choir. Barnett was educated at Paul Quinn College’s secondary school for children in Waco, Texas, where she had received a full scholarship in singing. When her father was transferred to a church in Los Angeles in 1914, Barnett attended school there for two years. The family then moved to Kansas City, Kan., and she went to high school at Western University (a high school and junior college combined) in Quindaro, Kan.

At age 17, while attending Western University, Etta met and married Lieutenant Curtis Brooks – a former teacher – and moved to Oklahoma. Together she and Brooks had three daughters: Sue, Gladys and Etta Vee. After six of years of marriage, they divorced and she and her children returned to Kansas. Upon her return, Barnett enrolled in the University of Kansas. With her parents’ help raising her daughters, Barnett studied voice and drama and spent her summers touring with Jackson Jubilee Singers, a popular gospel group in Kansas, to pay her way through school. She also hosted a university radio program, where she sang gospel and popular music, and formed a quartet similar to the Jubilee Singers, which also performed on the university radio station.

Barnett received a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1931. Following graduation, Barnett joined the Eva Jessye Choir of New York. She also appeared on the professional stage in the Fast and Furious , an all-black musical revue written by Zora Neale Hurston, and another musical called Zombie . Zombie played in New York for two months, then toured to Chicago and California. Among Barnett’s other Broadway credits are Sugar Hill and Lysistrata .

When Zombie closed in California in 1932, Barnett decided to audition for film roles in Hollywood. However, at this time, because few parts were available to African American actresses, she found work dubbing vocals for Barbara Stanwyck in Ladies of the House (1932) and Ginger Rogers in Professional Sweetheart (1933). Finally, in 1933, Barnett received her first on-screen part singing “My Forgotten Man” in The Gold Diggers of 1933 . From this film appearance, Barnett won national acclaim for her musical talent, received invitations for lectures and concerts, and in 1934 was invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to sing “My Forgotten Man” at a birthday celebration for President Franklin D. Roosevelt—becoming the first African American woman to perform at the White House.

Barnett was also offered another on-screen singing role in Flying Down to Rio (1933) with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. In this role, she appeared as a Brazilian singer and sang “The Carioca,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for best song.

In 1934 she married Claude Barnett, founder and director of the Associated Negro Press. She met Barnett in Chicago in 1931 on her way to New York City. Once married, Etta and her three daughters, who had remained in Kansas City with her parents, moved to Chicago to live with Claude. Her daughters eventually changed their surname and were adopted by Barnett. Etta and Claude remained married until his death in 1967.
In 1942 Barnett returned to New York to play the part of Bess in George Gershwin’s opera, Porgy and Bess . Gershwin reportedly wrote the role of Bess with Barnett in mind, but when offered the role Barnett graciously declined the part because it required a soprano. Finally, seven years after the opera’s rather inauspicious Broadway debut in 1935, Barnett agreed to take the role in a 1942 revival. With Barnett in the role of Bess, the opera gained critical and commercial acclaim. It ran for one year on Broadway and then toured throughout the United States and Canada until 1945.

In addition to her accomplishments in Hollywood and on the Broadway stage, she hosted her own radio shows, “Etta Moten Sings,” “Etta Moten – with Music and Conversation” and “I Remember When;” performed with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony; was a soloist on Meredith Wilson’s radio show, “Carefree Karnival;” and served as community relations director for Chicago station WNUS.

Barnett’s influence was not limited to the artistic sphere; she also devoted considerable time to civic affairs, such as the African American Institute (AAI), the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, the Chicago Lyric Opera, the DuSable Museum, the Field Museum, the South Side Community Art Center, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the National Council for Community Services to International Visitors. She was active in women’s issues as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the Links, the National Council of Negro Women, the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago and the Women’s Board of the Chicago Urban League. She was also involved in the International Women’s Year and United Nations Decade for Women World Conference activities and events throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Along with her husband, Barnett supported African independence and progress. Together they traveled many times to Africa, often as part of official United States delegations to independence ceremonies and presidential inaugurations for Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia and Lusaka. In 1958, along with her husband, Barnett attended the All African People’s Conference. She was present at the All African Women’s Conference in 1960. Barnett participated in the Delta International of the Diaspora, a Delta Sigma Theta program to study the lives of people of African descent throughout the world, and represented the AAI as part of the women’s task force in Africa. In 1988 she received a citation from AAI recognizing her many years of service to Africa.

From the Barnetts’ visits to Africa, they amassed an impressive private African art collection. According to one Chicago Tribune reporter, who toured Barnett’s home in the 1990s, “Africa is far more evident than Broadway or Hollywood. In every one of Moten’s 14 rooms, the decor is punctuated with masks and sculptures, ivory and good-luck charms from Benin to Zimbabwe.”

In addition to her AAI citation, Barnett received a citation of merit from the University of Kansas in 1943; a citation for service from the National Association of Business and Professional Women in 1958; a citation in recognition for contributions to Afro-American Music from Atlanta University in 1973; and a 1974 citation from WAIT for her contributions to the City of Chicago. In 1979 she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. She also was the recipient of a Living Legend Award from the National Black Arts Festival, the Order of Lincoln Medallion from the state of Illinois and a host of honorary degrees (Atlanta University in 1976, Spelman College in 1983, University of Illinois in 1987, and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and North Carolina Central University, both in 1989).

She considered her 100th birthday (attended by Harry Belafonte, Studs Terkel, and about 400 others) as her life’s high water mark so no elaborate funeral arrangements were made. She suggested that donations could be given to Chicago’s Second Presbyterian Church Restoration Fund.
After a protracted struggle with pancreatic cancer, Barnett died on Jan. 2, 2004, at the age of 102. Research more about Black female entertainers and share with your babies. Mak eit a champion day!

November 2 1894- Benedict College Opens

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a school of higher education, some people believe today there is no reason to go to college and spend all of that money to have a degree in a field that you can’t get a job or further that profession. I agree why take something just to be taking it, it must serve a purpose besides a place to party and extend your high school foolishness. This school was one of the top HBCU’s in the country until Blacks were allowed to attend the bigger Intuitions around it. I have had the honor of speaking to the students on campus back in the day. Enjoy!

Remember – “Education is your ticket to the next phase in your life, don’t sleep on it” – Fredrick Douglass

Today in our History – November 2, 1894 – Benedict College opens.

Located within walking distance of downtown Columbia, South Carolina, Benedict College is a private four-year, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA. Benedict College was founded in 1870 by Rhode Island native Mrs. Bathsheba Benedict and the Baptist Home Mission. Its long-term goal was to educate emancipated African Americans and produce citizens with “powers for good in society.” Originally called Benedict Institute, on November 2, 1894, through a charter granted by the South Carolina legislature, the institution became a liberal arts college and changed its name to Benedict College. From 1870 until 1930 Benedict was led by northern white Baptist ministers, but in April 1930 Reverend John J. Starks became the first African American president of the college. Starks was a Benedict alumnus, class of 1891.

Benedict College is currently one of the fastest growing of the 39 United Negro College Fund schools. Amongst the twenty independent colleges in the state of South Carolina, Benedict with 2,770 students, has the largest undergraduate enrollment, and the second largest enrollment overall. On two occasions Money magazine has named Benedict among the top seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) nationally that offer the best value in American education. Benedict College has also been recognized by the Knight Foundation for its “commitment to high standards of quality in education” and for its “distinguished record of providing educational opportunities to African-American students.”

Today, Benedict College offers courses in business, government, social and health services, public and private school instruction, and in the civic, cultural, religious, and scientific fields. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Institute of Physics, Benedict ranks second in the nation in producing African American physics majors. Of the 2,700 students attending Benedict during the 2008-2009 academic year, 97% attended full time, 55% were from South Carolina, 69% lived in on-campus housing, and 3% were from outside the United States. A recent count showed that the balance between genders on campus was almost precisely equal. During that same academic year, Benedict had a total faculty of 158, 121 of whom taught full time. Research more about other HBCU’s and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!